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Brandhorst Museum opens amidst fanfare

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The opening of the Brandhorst Museum at Munich was a rollicking affair with ceremonies of grand stature beckoning the occasion. 

The first day of the opening saw a Catholic bishop, a Protestant bishop and an archpriest of the Greek-Orthodox church gracing the event.

Come second and third day, and thousands of guests of honour, politicians, journos, sponsors and collectors congregated in the gazebo made by the organisers between the Pinakothek der Moderne and the new museum. 

The museum is unique in the sense that it uses the most modern technology which has its foundation on the latest environmental research. For instance, heated groundwater helps maintain the temperature.

The outer crust of the building is an extraordinary arrangement of sparkling, multi-hued ceramic rods which remind you of the hull of a ship. The interiors of the museum have one of the most complicated light systems that give you a feel of an ocean liner.

Oak floors and railings also adorn the museum which has become even more delightful with the display of Twombly’s latest work, the 2007 “Roses” series.

Contemporary artists like Joseph Beuys, James Lee Byars, John Chamberlain, Eric Fischl, Katharina Fritsch, Robert Gober, Alex Katz, Mike Kelley, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Bruce Nauman, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and Christopher Wool have their works displayed in the impeccable art museum.

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Written by Jaspreet Kaur

July 25, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Posted in Contemporary Art

Christie and Sotheby flavour rip-roaring success

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old master paintingChristie and Sotheby saw an overwhelming response to the evening sales of Old Master paintings held this week. A record-breaking 101 paintings worth £53.54 million were sold between the two premier international auction houses.

Christie alone managed to rake in £20.28 million from the 48 lots that were sold.

The collection of paintings on auction at the Christie’s included works like “Venetian Ladies on a Balcony,” done by Eugen von Blaas in 1875. The very first lot had a scene signed in 1635 by the ambiguous Jacob Duck. The painting, estimated to be sold between £40,000 to £60,000 plus the sale charge, fetched a yum £127,250.

The huge still life painted by Willem Heda in the mid-1640s got an amazing £1.38 million, setting a world record for the artist. The auctions saw the setting up of another world record when Fra Bartolommeo’s “The Madonna and Child in a Landscape with Saint Elizabeth and the Infant Saint John the Baptist” got a monstrous £2.17 million. The picture dates back to 1516 and is signed, a huge one-off thing among Renaissance masters.

Giuliano Bugiardini, the Florentine artist who honed his skills in the workshop of Ghirlandaio with Michelangelo and then assisted him in the Sistine Chapel got £700,000 — £825,250 for his portrait of a young boy.

But all this comparatively looked jaded, considering Sotheby’s rollicking success on Wednesday evening. Premium quality works were at display and 53 paintings were sold for £33.26 million.

A heart-rending gorgeous Virgin and Child now thought to be by the less famous Pietro di Domenico da Montepulciano got £211,250. While, Pontormo’s portrait of Cosimo I de Medici, once a splendid art piece, raked in £505,250.

High intensity bidding showered £3.84 million on Jusepe de Ribera’s “Prometheus.” The dramatic depiction of a man in the nude gesturing and screaming has not lost its appeal even today.

Written by Jaspreet Kaur

July 12, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Posted in Contemporary Art

Basel reverberates with Art 40 Basel

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“Die Art Basel ist nicht zu schlagen. Seit vierzig Jahren unaufhaltsam an der Spitze: Diese Messe wankt nicht.” (Art Basel cannot be beaten. Since forty years irresistibly on the top: this fair does not falter).

The ultimate rendezvous for art collectors, art dealers, artists, curators and other art enthusiasts, ‘Art Basel’ ended recently. The small city of Basel situated on the banks of Rhine is filled with a mesmerizing charm during the international art show.   61,000 people were present at the international premier art fair this year. It’s a great place to showcase and buy modern and contemporary art works.

Art Basel is a great platform that features almost 300 major galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Around 2,500 artists, with a diverse range of work are represented in the various sections of the show. Paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photographs, videos and editioned works of supreme stature adorn the exhibition every year.

Many artists fetched a handsome price for their works. Artists like Anish Kapoor, Martin Kippenberger, Neo Rauch, Barbara Kruger and even youngsters like Raqib Shaw got a price of around $1 million for their creations. Christoph Büchel’s “Wallet (Lost)”, a ready-made sculpture that had the artist’s wallet containing credit cards, identity documents and a few Swiss francs was sold by Hauser and Wirth for a whopping $76,346.

Something around $175,000 was what Jeffrey Deitch got for Kehinde Wiley’s “Lamentation over the Dead Christ” after selling it to Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis. The Princess intends to hang it next to the Old Masters at her palace in Regensburg.

Art Basel is not only an art market but a very popular swivel that blossoms because of the aura that it holds with the cocktail parties at the Beyeler Museum, dinner at Chez Donati and farewell at the Three Kings Hotel.

Everyone eagerly wants to take home something from this spellbinding fair and collectors urge each other to spend.

One of the major attractions of the Art Basel was a group show called “Il Tempo Del Postino”. The incredible exhibition was the master work of Hans Ulrich Obrist and Philippe Parreno. The splendid show was an awesome collection of a theatrical show by 20 artists, including Olafur Eliasson, Tino Sehgal and Anri Sala. The show indeed made everyone forget the jostle for prices.

The next edition of Art Basel will be from June 16-20, 2010.

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Written by Jaspreet Kaur

June 24, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Posted in Contemporary Art

Prolific tinges about elegance

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An exquisite painter, a fine graphic artist, a sculptor, a muralist, an interior designer and an architect- all rolled into one…that’s Satish Gujral for you. His astounding works of art have fetched him international recognition and won him many accolades.

Blessed with so many talents, Gujral humbly says, “Painting, sculpture and architecture are manifestations of a single aesthetic. They are products of a total environment- a social and cultural system with parallels in literature, music and other arts….”

Born in Jhelum, he suffered a terminal hearing impairment at the tender age of 8. His early years, in Gujral’s words, were, “entombed in silence”. He read Urdu literature and scribbled with a pencil on paper. He went on to study Applied Arts at the Mayo School of Art in Lahore. He then shifted to Mumbai and took admission in the Sir J.J. School of Art. It was during this time that he got in touch with the Progressive Artists Group.

satish_gujral-1But sadly he had to leave J.J. School of Art because of a persistent health problem. He then went to Mexico on a scholarship, for an apprenticeship with Diego Rivera and David Sequeiros. It was there that he got greatly affected by the pain and misery of the people who had been rendered homeless because of partition of the country. This social content started showing up in Gujral’s works who kept on searching for the meaning of living and life.

He never cringed when it came to trying out a different variety of mediums. He tried his hand at diversifying his sculpted material with industrialized objects like steel, copper, glass, frequently painted in rich enamel colours. Later on he even experimented with junk sculptures, introducing light and sound in them.

Between 1952 and 1974, Satish Gujral did a number of solo shows of his sculptures, paintings and graphics in Mexico City, New York, New Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Montreal, Rome, Berlin, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Stockholm. The late ‘80s saw the expansion of his paintings and sculptures in terms of materials and content. His sculptures in burnt wood depict a kind of instinctive exposure of human and other forms.

Expanding his boundaries further, Satish Gujral also penned down his absorbing autobiography “A brush with life”, which has been well received.

Written by Jaspreet Kaur

June 12, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Posted in Contemporary Art

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The tawny hues of sunflowers

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manjit bawa painting 2

The tawny hues of sunflowers, the greens of the grassy lands, the crimson shades of the sun…all describe the freshness that exhales from the canvases of Manjit Bawa-one of the master painters of his time. Born in Dhuri, Punjab, in 1941, he was one of the first painters to break the conventional mould of browns and greys and used brighter Indian colours like pinks and reds. Natural surroundings used to be a great source of inspiration for Bawa.

His family always discouraged him to become a painter but his spiritual inclination made him follow his heart’s desire. In Bawa’s words, “I had no qualms. I believed God would provide me with food and I would earn the rest.”

He carved a niche for himself under Abani Sen, who inculcated in Bawa the ability to admire the figurative at a time when everyone was inclining in support of the abstract. “Without that initial training I could never have been able to distort forms and create the stylization you see in my work today”, said Bawa.

After working as a silkscreen painter in Britain between 1964 and 1971, Bawa returned to India and found the stimulation for his paintings in Indian mythology and Sufi poetry. Since his childhood he had been fascinated by stories from the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Puranas. Waris Shah’s poetry and teachings of the Holy granth of the Sikhs intrigued him and gave him a motivation to paint.

Bright colours adorned Bawa’s paintings as he felt that these are very close to Indians coz they have permeated deep in their hearts. Criticism and negative comments over the use of so-called ‘ice-cream’ colours never disturbed him and he infused freshness in his canvasses with tinges of bright colours.

Flute is a persistent image in his paintings. Bawa learnt to play the instrument from flute maestro Pannalal Ghosh. He has painted Ranjha, the cowherd from the heart-rending love ballad Heer Ranjha, playing the flute. He also painted Krishna playing the flute, surrounded by dogs, quite unlike to what mythological paintings portray him, where he is surrounded by cows. Kali and Shiva also dominated Bawa’s paintings, who, he felt were the icons of India.

His love for mysticism and spirituality, especially for Sufi philosophy trickled from his thoughts and words. He used to say, “I find a wealth of wisdom in the scriptures. Sufi philosophy has taught me that man and man, man and animals, can co-exist”.

Drawing was the heart and soul of Bawa, and he considered it his first love. Michelangelo’s sketches and drawings enthused in him a desire to draw.

Manjit Bawa always followed where his heart led and never worked on demand. He believed that everything has a time and place. Truly, his works are immortal and his paintings are an irreplaceable contribution to the world of art. His only desire that had been left unfulfilled was to paint the sky red!

manjit bawa painting

Written by Jaspreet Kaur

June 9, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Contemporary Art

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The unwavering charm of Mona Lisa

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What is it in the painting of Mona Lisa that makes jaws drop when someone sees it for the first time? Why is there a sense of mystique surrounding this piece of art by Leonardo Da Vinci? There are probably a number of reasons that make this painting enjoy the celestial position that it has today.

The Mona Lisa sits majestically in the centre of Louvre in Paris. The influence of Paris and its art critics could be an important contributing factor that made Mona Lisa a cult piece of art over the centuries. Also essential was Leonardo’s persona, which was quite unlike his contemporaries in the world of art. He had an unflinching aura of a magician that distinguished him from others.

What is amazing is the fact that Mona Lisa is not felt and interpreted the way it was done by people in the past. If you try and accomplish in seeing the painting as people did centuries ago, you will find Mona Lisa astoundingly different! It is an enigmatic, shifting, indescribable masterpiece, and probably it was this very obscureness that held the interest of those who saw it in the past.

The beauty of Mona Lisa is that at least three portraits have been synchronized within it concurrently. The first one is that of a gorgeous and attractive woman from the Renaissance, sitting comfortably and smiling at the observer. But a closer look at it and you can sense an air of melancholy and anguish coming through the painting. And just when the viewer is trying to come to terms with this image, another impression follows…the impression of that of a lurid danger. This portrayal even made Walter Pater, the great 19th-century essayist, to say in one of his famous essays that “she is older than the rocks among which she sits; like the vampire, she has been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the grave.”

So it was not only her beauty that captivated the minds of the critics of the 19th century. It was a combination of the images of beauty, sadness and beastliness that absorbed their attention. These qualities still reside in Mona Lisa, but only to those who can scrape the surface and look deeper.

Leonardo’s work has been aptly rewarded over the centuries purely because of its originality that takes in all the other qualities. I think this quote by Will Rogers sums it all… ““Mona Lisa is the only beauty who went through history and retained her reputation”.

Written by Jaspreet Kaur

June 6, 2009 at 6:54 pm